Hadrians Wall Rock 2 Roll Road Race E/1/2/3 on 17/09/2017

By Jon Fowles

On Sunday I completed my last race of 2017, the Hadrians Wall Road Race. It was put on by the prolific North country race organisers Rock to Roll Cycles, whose races we always enjoy. Mainly due to their great locations and competitive racing attracting strong riders from north and south of the border. I was joined by my Team Chronomaster teammates: Ste, George and Warren. I can summarise the race in one word…. brutal!!

It’s a strange time of year to be racing as you tend to get a mix of people, some of whom are getting tired of racing with the season drawing to close, and then you get the people who are fighting tooth and nail to get their last points. It seemed like this race contained mostly the later. The pace was savage from the off, with constant attacks!

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Early in the race a trio of riders escaped up the road, and held a minute advantage over the peloton. With so many little hills on the course, the attacks from the bunch were constant. However, nothing seemed to be working. I think I was involved in at least one attack every single lap, and each time they would get drawn back in.

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As the race reached the penultimate lap, only remnants of the original peloton were left, and the tiring legs meant that myself and 5 others were finally able to escape. We did our best to try and close the gap to the trio up the road, but unfortunately only managed to shave 30 seconds from their lead. We entered the final climb up to the finish line together, and sprinted it out in the final 500m. I rolled across the line in 7th place, legs smoking.

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Despite complaining of having a cold, Ste put in an impressive ride to finish in 20th place. George, who started the year as a 4th cat, also put in a valiant effort in his first elite race but unfortunately did not finish. Warren had the misfortunate of crashing out of the race.

It’s been a long season of racing, and I’m very pleased to have secured my Elite racing license, finish on the podium 4 times and in the top 10 a further 9 times this year. Now I’m looking forward to eating lots of cake and doing some nice gentle Sunday rides.

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Many thanks to the Rock to Roll Cycles team for putting on yet another amazing race and Ellen Isherwood for the great pictures!

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Posted in Blogs

TLI u50’s National RR Champs

By Kris Zentek.

I’ll cut to the chase. I won my category – Category A – which, for those of you who don’t know TLI, is the age group 40-44. This was my first road race win in over 4 years, and I am really pleased! I’ve had a rubbish season, and have only recently found my form (far too late). So I’d just glad I can finish on a high.

Team Chronomaster now have three age categorised National Champions for 2017;

  • Craig Battersby – LVRC Cat A National Time Trial Champion
  • Simon Deplitch – TLI Cat C National Criterium Champion
  • Kris Zentek – TLI Cat A National Road Race Champion

There really isn’t that much to talk about in terms of todays race. I attacked from the gun, built a lead of over 4:30 (apparently) on the bunch, and never saw anyone again until after the finish line and half way back to the HQ. So instead I’ll talk a bit about age categorised racing, and about the various stages I went through during my 55 mile “time trial”.

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Credit: VeloUK

TLI is a road racing organisation ran by cyclists, for cyclists, and unlike British Cycling (which is ability based with classifications based on points earned), it is age categorised. This is good for a number of reasons, but I’ll pick out a few:

  1. Races are cheap to organise and host, and cheap for cyclists to enter. This means there are a lot more races in the calendar.
  2. The age categories range from Junior (J) all the way up to Racing can be enjoyed by everyone, from the ages of 16 all the way to 75+ (H). This makes racing accessible to everyone, not just the fittest.
  3. You race and compete against other people in your category. This makes racing much more of a level playing field, and can make for really interesting dynamics as multiple categories often race together.

Every year there are national championships held in a number of disciplines; Road, track, crit, time trial and cross. There may be others too. And each discipline awards the title of national champ to the winner of each age category. The Road Race champs for the 50+ categories were held a few weeks ago and were on the Holt circuit just across the border in North Wales. Today was the under 50’s, and we were racing on the Siddington circuit in Cheshire, just 10 minutes down the road from where I live.

There would be three races today, kicking off with the under 40’s – categories J (Junior – 16-17), S (Senior – 18-29) and M (Master – 30-39). Following 5 minutes behind would be the A category (40-44), and 5 minutes later the B category (45-49).

The HQ was at Allostock Village Hall, which is a good 8 miles away from the circuit, so other than putting some embrocation on my legs, that would be my warm-up. The Siddington course is about 11 miles long and can be described as flat, but with some grippy rolling bits. The races were organised by Macclesfield Wheelers, and were being hosted in conjunction with the Parkinson Memorial Road Race. Weather today was blustery but it stayed dry.

So onto the actual race report.

Where is the break?

When the lead car beeped the horn, I was at the front and the pace was very gentle – so slow that I expected someone to attack, and I wanted to be in a break. So I decided that I would try to form it. I dropped down a few gears and gave a tentative burst of speed. No-one took the bait. 10 seconds later I had a gap, and so I committed. 30 seconds later the bunch were out of site. This is the phase of the race where I would expect at any minute to either see a couple of riders bridging, or a marauding bunch. half a lap later, neither happened. And so I kept going…

Hung out to dry

A lap or two in, I had no idea what my time gap was, and I had not seen a glimpse of anyone else. All I had to focus on was the lead car in front of me. My plea’s to the marshalls for time gaps were to no avail, but I could see them all clicking stopwatches as I went past, and so I knew that the bunch would be getting them, and would know how far out I was. For all I knew I could be digging myself into a hole and only be 30 seconds up the road – ready to be swallowed up and spat out the back. All I could do was dig deep and make it difficult for them…hoping that there was some guy on the front of the bunch working as hard as I was…

The time gap

As I rolled through the line to lap 3, I shouted for a time gap but I didn’t get one. I had been getting wild estimates from spectators but I wanted something concrete. I was riding at the top of my threshold and I wanted to know if I can drop it a bit. I did another lap not knowing where I was. Rolling through for lap 4, I got a time gap. “Time at the last lap was 4:17”. Great. I’d done a whole lap since then. For all I know it could now be 5:17 or 1:17. I assumed the worst and dug deep. My only focus now was getting to the bell, still with a decent gap, and so I pressed on.

It was windy today, and the back straight was into a block headwind. I don’t know if the wind was strengthening, or my legs were weakening, but each time I hit it, it hurt a bit more. All I could think was that it was hurting the inevitable chasers behind me. They would have known the time gap and would be working together to catch me. If that happened, I know I would be toast. I was at that point where I could either accept that I would be caught, sit up and recover enough to have another late attack, or keep going and risk being caught too late and have no time to recover. So I kept going. the main focus now was getting back to the main road, the A34, and the tailwind to recover for the last lap.

All or nothing

I got to the bell lap…”gap at the last lap was 3 minutes”. 3 minutes to what? To the whole bunch, to a solo bridger? 3 minutes was a whole lap ago. In the previous lap I had lost 1:17, so in the lap I had just done I calculated the gap was now 1:40, with 11 miles still to go on my own. I was being chased by a working group with fresh legs, and even if we maintained the current pace, I would get to the line with less than 30 seconds. If they saw me up the road, I know it was game over for me. I had gone past the point of no return now, and knew I had to cross the line ahead of them. I would stand no chance in a sprint.

I spent the whole of that last lap looking behind me. There was a sportive on in the area so I was passing lots of cyclists, which made it really difficult to spot anyone in my race. I was now really suffering, and trying to find the best opportunities to stretch out my cramping legs. 2 laps previous, I dropped a full water bottle when trying to swap them over…

Home straight

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Credit: VeloUK

At last I got onto the main road, and I knew I stood a chance. I turned, and was expecting the marshalls to hold the traffic because the race was coming through behind me. But they didn’t. They lets the cars go. This was the first time now that I believed I could do it. It meant there was no-one else coming. It also meant that if they closed me, there was 20 or so cars in-between!

With a mile to go, I started to think about my celebration. First win in 4 years, I wanted to celebrate it a bit, but I was a bit conscious of the guy from last week 🙂

I rolled up to the finish line, and tentatively raised my hands in the air. Stopped the Garmin, and carried on rolling down the road. Race over. I’d won. I later discovered that I’d built up my comfortable lead pretty early, and it had never really come down. All of that anxiety for nothing! But in not knowing really did help to motivate me, and it’s the hardest 2 hour workout I had in quite some time…

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Here are the results from all of the races today, and congratulations to all of the new National Road Race champions for 2017…

Category J

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Credit: VeloUK

  • 1st – Huw Owen, Energy Cycling Club
  • 2nd – Harry Cain, Equiom IOM Junior Cycling Team
  • 3rd – Sam Beeston, Pro Vision Race Team

Category S

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Credit: VeloUK

  • 1st – Will Corden, Mammoth Lifestyle Racing Team
  • 2nd – Tom Mazzone, Manx Road Club
  • 3rd – Sean Boswell, LJMU Cycling Team

Category M

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Credit: VeloUK

  • 1st – Steve Fidler, Crewe Clarion Wheelers
  • 2nd – Chris Siepen, Seamons Cycling Club
  • 3rd – Daniel Glyn Roberts, Ynys Mon Racing Team

Category A

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Credit: VeloUK

  • 1st – Kris Zentek, Team Chronomaster
  • 2nd – Tony Greenhalgh, Onimpex Bioracer Racing Team
  • 3rd – Andy Martin, VCUK Champion System Racing Team

Category B

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Credit: VeloUK

  • 1st – Andrew Turner, Element Cycling Team
  • 2nd – John Fiddles, Team Lusso
  • 3rd – Chris Spencer, Onimpex Bioracer Racing Team

I’d like to finish off as always by thanking the race organisers Macclesfield Wheelers for an excellent days racing. I can only imagine what must go into organising a race like this. Thanks to all of the marshalls and Motorcycle support riders for a brilliant job today – I felt safe all of the time, and had confidence at all of the junctions. Lastly, thank you to all of the support staff back at HQ for the lovely coffee, cake and sandwiches.

Finally, thank you to Larry Hickmott from Velouk.net for the coverage of today’s races, and for capturing some great photo’s. I dropped a few photo’s in this blog, along with some other photo’s I found online (I hope you don’t mind David Higham!) For the full results, follow the link below:

https://www.velouk.net/2017/09/11/results-tli-cycling-national-rr-championships/

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

HMCC Pimbo Road Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

Late season panic is now setting in. It’s September and points are needed! Luckily Harry Middleton CC recognised this and put on a late season points grabber. The venue, Pimbo. Great for fat people like me. If you don’t know Pimbo, then you’re probably not into cycling, but for the uninitiated it’s a 2-ish mile pan flat loop on Pimbo trading estate. It’s only redeeming features being that it’s 4 miles wide and once a lap you get to smell Monster Munch.

I thought I was on my own today, with most of the team sunning it (lol) in the Alps, and the rest having packed for the year. As I went for a quick spin (to find a bush) I was surprised to see Warren Gell pinning on a number. He let on that Ste Feeney was here too. Warren was pinning on number 58. I was number 45, so there must quite a few EOLs today. I rolled up to Ste to say hello, who was stranded in a car with a flat battery. Apparently he’d left his Strip Hot Wax Unsightly Hair Remover plugged in for too long.

Weather. Dry, but threatening to rain, and boy did it rain. Windy too – blustery with a cross headwind on the long draggy finish straight. This was all perfect for me…

We roll off. 20 laps today, a touch over 40 miles. No primes either. Declan Hudson went on his customary early solo attack, but the rest of the bunch were very reserved. We rolled through the first two laps like it was a club run. A couple of solo bids here and there. Warren jumped on the front to pull back the soloists, while Ste nestled into the main bunch. I was up front helping with the effort. I wanted to stay at the front because I wanted to get in a break – no way was I sitting in a bunch on a day like this.

5 laps in and the fun started. The first of the breakaway attempts started, but Warren made sure nothing stuck and I stayed right with him. Ste came to the front and had a dig with a few others, and as they were reeled in on the finish straight, I saw the opportunity. I countered, the bunch strung out but I couldn’t get away. I rolled to the side, and waited for the back straight and the headwind. As we go there, I went again – this time I got a gap, and pulled another rider with me. We both dug deep to build a bit of a lead, but I could see the other rider was struggling. As we crossed the line I attacked again and went solo.

Over the next couple of laps I built a decent lead – maybe 20-30 seconds. I could see breaks forming and collapsing behind me, but I kept up the pace. I wanted to make sure that when I was caught, it would be by a strong breakaway, and not the whole bunch. After another couple of laps I could see I was now being closed by what looked like the bunch. Turns out it was a break of around 12 riders. I eased up over the line to make sure I was not countered and could go with this group.

Now I was in a large break, and for the most part everyone was working…only one or two avoiding turns. The bunch were not far behind and Warren and Ste were doing their best collecting tickets and disrupting chases. We had to work hard to build a lead. Eventually we sorted ourselves out and pressed on. One or two dropped of the back, but the rest stuck with it. For the next dozen laps we built an maintained a 1 minute lead. Nothing more to write here.

As we approached the last 5 laps, the messing about started. Only half the group were pulling turns and I could start to feel the early efforts in my legs. I knew I would stand no chance in a 12 way sprint, and so the group had to be reduced. I tried to get away a couple of times – to split the group up – unsuccessfully. On the final lap, I dug deep over the line and took a few with me. Past Monster Munch corner, I went again and took another rider with me. We were being chased by 3 others, and as we hit the last turn we came together as a 5, with the rest of the break a couple of seconds behind.

36163329074_1b3ab8f0c1_o-2A lad from Maxxis went first, from a long way out. I was second wheel and so had to pull him back…burning the last of my matches in the process. 200 yards out, the four of them launched their sprint and I was left behind. My focus now was staying in front of the guys sprinting behind me. I crossed the line in 5th place. As the winner crossed the line, he threw his arms in the air. Big mistake when you are in a closely contested sprint, in the wet, with a crosswind. He lost his balance and swerved straight into the path of the other sprinters. One lad from NCC got his front wheel clipped and went straight over the bars. Thankfully he was OK, it was wet, he slid more than fell, but cut his skin suit to shreds. Amazingly, there was not a mark on his S-Works Tarmac, only a brake calliper that got pushed against the wheel.


Inevitably the race winner was DQ’d for dangerous riding, which is a real shame as he was really strong in the break, but a foolish moment meant it was all in vein. Lesson learned, and I guess he is thankful the crash was not more serious. As a result, I moved up to 4th place, which I was kind of happy with, but disappointed that I spent too much time working in the break and left nothing for a late attack.

Still…I got the remaining points I needed, I stayed upright, and I stayed warm.

Results

  1. Martin Lonie
  2. Paul Wilkinson
  3. Ben Trippier
  4. Kris Zentek
  5. Tony Greenhalgh
  6. Steven Fidler
  7. Ryan Ellis
  8. Charlie Critchley
  9. Lewis Ball
  10. Aaron Tonks

Thanks to the organisers Harry Middleton CC for today’s race. It was really well marshalled (I’ve never seen so many marshalls at Pimbo!) and they kept us safe all day. Thanks to the support staff back at HQ for the coffee and cake, which was really well received by the riders after 2 hours in the Skelmersdale drizzle!

Thanks finally to Ellen Isherwood, who decided that a morning photographing a bunch of idiots riding round a trading estate in miserable weather was a good way to spend Sunday…and we’re eternally grateful that you do, Ellen!

Next week is the TLI A/B National Champs, on my doorstep…a lie in!

See you there…

 

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

Manchester Wheelers 2 Day 2017

By Ste Feeney

The 3 stage, 2 day Manchester Wheelers road race is a race that I have thoroughly enjoyed over the last few years. Although some of the racing isn’t really to my strengths (these are diminishing as the years pass by 😩) the fast and furious smash ups have always set me up for a decent season finale and I’ve managed to finish with some decent results.

So, with ambitions of improving on previous year’s performances, a chance to race against some good friends and some ‘ out of towners’ (A rider from Aberdeen wheelers was possibly from furthest afield) I took the plunge and entered.

Racing with me would be team mates Kris Zentek, coming into form late in the season, George Whittaker, criterium racing regular and potential candidate for this seasons unluckiest rider (down to one item of non crash damaged team kit) and Adam Baines, George’s main rival for unluckiest rider award, who had been enduring a frustrating spell of great form coupled with terrible fortune! (Down to his last pair of wheels having written off a couple of pairs this season)

Unfortunately, Adam didn’t start the race. His terrible run of luck had taken its toll and his season had been drawn to a premature end.

Stages 1 and 2 were being run on the Tameside cycle track. A narrow, twisty, purpose built, race circuit.

The first stage was a 1.1km Individual time trial covering one, clockwise lap, basically consisting of a series of tight, mainly right hand, bends with flat out sprinting in between. A test of right hand cornering and flat out sprinting ability, my prowess in such disciplines being generally inconsistent and questionable!

At least it was dry so I could leave my cornering 50 pence piece at home try and to maintain maintain some decent pace through the bends.

My aim for this stage was to try and avoid coming last, a position I have been fairly close too in previous years. Alas, some braver than normal cornering and a complete contrast to my approach from last year, vividly demonstrated in the pictures below showing me in this years time trial and last year’s effort, gave me my best time yet, just 5 seconds behind the best time and a mid table position.

Vivid contrast in style over the years

Joining me with a 1 minute 18 second effort was Kris, another cornering specialist…NOT. George was a second quicker than us and we were all reasonably pleased with our opening stage efforts.

Stage 2 was a 40 lap race around the same circuit used for the opening time trial but Anti clockwise this time so, thankfully, mainly left hand bends. This is a stage that, strangely, I’ve always enjoyed!

The racing was full on! Non stop, flat out sprinting and cornering with a few crashes to avoid along the way. Kris and I managed to avoid the crashes and finished in what was left of the front group of 30 riders or so. Unfortunately, George, in keeping with recent misfortune, had got taken into the grass following a bit of a pile up during the race and was unable to get back onto the tarmac in time to catch the tail of the group. He lost a lap and at the end of the day was a minute or so behind the leader on general classification.

Kris and I were in 22nd and 24th position respectively but just 5 seconds behind the leader. With so many riders in striking distance of the lead and a difficult stage to come, the race was still very much on!

Stage 3
This stage offered a very different challenge, 5 laps of the tough Oakenclough circuit for a total distance of 55 miles.

As with previous years I was expecting an attritional race with front group becoming smaller as each tough section of the circuit passed. These being the main climb up Oakenclough, the short climb immediately after it (I’ve always rightly or wrongly called this ‘The Telegraph’) and the draggy section on the back of the circuit.

A few attempted breaks failed during the first 3 laps. A former team mate of mine, and all round great rider and decent bloke, Simon Bridge of Manchester Bicycle Club, was doing his utmost to keep the race together for his team mate Tarn Flynn who had started the day in 2nd position overall. This despite the fact Simon was also just seconds off the lead and well capable of challenging for the win. However, when a couple of riders escaped with around a lap and a half to go there was some hesitation and they pushed on and gained a decent lead.

Kris and I were still in the lead group at this time but George had retired following a puncture. More bad luck for poor George and for a moment I felt slightly guilty for having convinced him to start the race when he was having some reservations a few days earlier!

As we approached the main climb for the last time there were around 20 riders left in the bunch. A final push over the top of the climb resulted in a few more riders being dropped. Unfortunately, the casualties this time included Kris.

After the long decent towards the finish the road drags up slightly before the final mile or so to the finish line. At this point the pace of the group slowed and riders seemed hesitant to go to the front and push on with the finish so close. With the race still wide open, and riders still separated by seconds, I decided to go for a late attack. If it was successful there was a great chance of an overall win or high placing.

I went for it! Although not a flat out attack I gained a nice little advantage while the group hesitated waiting to see who would take up the chase. With a small gap I pressed on but not committing fully as I decided a chase, and catch, was inevitable and I wanted to save some reserves for what seemed like the inevitable sprint.

Sure enough the group swept past me with around 600 meters to go, just before the sharp left hand turn into the 500 metre finishing straight. But I wasn’t finished yet!

As we rounded the corner I began my sprint and started working my way through the group of riders towards the front. I managed to sprint strongly all the way to the line passing all but one rider crossing the line in, what I believed for a fleeting moment, 2nd place on the stage. The winner of the group sprint also wondered whether he had won and gained a time bonus that would give him the overall victory. If I had come 2nd I would also get a time bonus that could lift me into the top places on the final overall classification.

However, our pondering was soon over as we saw the two riders that had escaped with a lap or so to go on the side of the road congratulating themselves on their success. After their attack they had stayed clear all the way and finished around 50 seconds ahead of the front chase group.

Still, 4th was a great result and I was delighted with this and even more pleased, and slightly confused, about my fine (by my standards) sprint finish.

MCR Wheelers 2017 - Ste Feeney

With a 50 second gap, the overall winner was likely to come from the first two finishers on stage 3 but I noticed that the winner of the stage, Jude Taylor, had started the day well behind on the classification after some misfortune in the circuit race the previous day, so, only the top spot had been secured.

I would have to hope that a lot of the riders ahead of me on General classification at the start of the day had fallen by the wayside if I was to sneak up the table.

Amazingly, when the final analysis was complete I had jumped up to 6th overall, equal on time with 4th and 5th but placed lower as their TT times on stage 1 were marginally quicker.

Kris has also sneaked into the top 20 continuing his run of good late season results.

Again, the Manchester Wheelers 2 day was a great event with superb organisation by Ruth Taylor and her team. Having organised our team’s road race this year I have a recently elevated respect for all race organisers and can only begin to imagine the stress involved in organising 3 races in 2 days, Bravo Ruth 👏

Ellen and Dan also put in a full weekend shift to ensure that, once more, we have great photos to look forward to after the events. I’m sure that for many of us these are as eagerly anticipated as the results!

With so many friends racing together there is also a great atmosphere around the whole event and I know a lot of riders are already looking forward to next year’s edition.

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North West Regional Road Race Championships 20/08/2018

By Jon Fowles

This Sunday was the North West Regional Road Race Championships, possibly the biggest race in the calendar for many, and certainly a target for Team Chronomaster. Adam, Ste and I were representing the team, and the start sheet reflected the significance of the race, with a handful of the region’s professional riders set to take part.

This year the race used the Calthwaite circuit, 80 miles of mostly fast flat roads with a short uphill drag to the finish line. During my last foray at this circuit I’d managed to get in an early break which was unfortunately caught on the last lap, and led to a messy finish of opportunistic attacks and a hectic sprint. I wasn’t keen on repeating this.

On the first lap the attacks began, as ever. I wanted to save my legs as much as possible, so I waited for the stronger riders to attack so I didn’t need to stick my own head in the wind. It’s a bit of a blur as to what actually happened, but it started with Hamish Graham (Green Jersey) and Richard Taylor attacking. I jumped in behind them and then as they tired I took a turn on the front. I (or we?) bridged across to a small group of early escapees just as Alex Luhrs (Brother NRG) came sailing past. I managed to get behind this, and keep the move going.

divs 1

As we approached the first left hand bend, the peloton had reeled us back in. I wasn’t content with this so I gave Alex a nod and attacked out of the corner. The two of us put in a big effort to pull away from the peloton, and we were joined by Hamish, Ryan Perry (Raleigh GAC) and two other riders. This was a good group, with enough firepower to edge the gap out to around 45 seconds, and we held this for 2 laps.

After the rise up to the start finish line, out of nowhere, we were joined by James Gullen (JLT Condor) and Dillon Byrne (VCUK). Now we really had all the strongest legs of the race in the breakaway, and pushed on at a decent pace. The gap to the peloton hovered below the minute mark, which isn’t a comfortable margin, and despite this some riders in the group kept missing turns.

divs 3

With 3 laps to go the breakaway came into a bit of a crisis, something had obviously spurred on the peloton, as the gap dropped below 30 seconds. We had to push on hard… really hard! It didn’t seem like we were making any progress with the gap staying below 40 seconds, despite hammering the pace. We stuck with it, and as we crossed the finish line to start the final lap, the elastic snapped and our gap grew to over a minute to the chasing peloton. From then we knew we’d escaped it and it was time to start attacking each other!

divs 2

It started with a few soft attacks when people weren’t willing to ride on the front, and then James went for it! Our breakaway split to pieces, with Dillon, Alex, Hamish and I forming a quartet trying to chase back to James. We hammered it as hard as we could, but despite this James kept pulling away. I was pretty toast, we all were by the looks of it, and there was nothing we could do. We carried on riding together (just about), until the final left hand bend before the final 500m drag to the finish.

I was on the front into the bend and had a mini attack to see if anyone would come past and so giving me a wheel to follow to the finish. Nobody bit, and I was still on the front. I was probably the worst sprinter from our quartet, so I didn’t intend to hang around. I gunned it from the 200m to go banner, and suddenly had a gap on Alex and Hamish, but as they wound up their sprint I was quickly passed. I hung on to finish in 4th place, with Alex in 2nd and Hamish finishing 3rd. James took a fine solo victory!

Thanks to Rock to Roll Cycles for organising the race and credit to Alex Reed for the great pictures. http://areed.co.uk/

Posted in Blogs

Team Chronomaster Road Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

Yes! It was finally time for Team Chronomaster inaugural Road Race!

This was our first venture into hosting a race, and Stephen Feeney took on the challenge with the support of the rest of the team, our sponsors, and many friends and family members. Too many to thank in a race report!

We chose the local favourite course of Bashall Eaves Long, and elected to run a Regional A race; categories 2-3-4, so that would be 5 laps of the 11 mile circuit. We had managed to put together a pretty impressive prize fund for the day and up for grabs were cash prizes, a set of Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres, and a brand new wrist watch!

Capture

Team Chronomaster had five riders in the race today; Adam Baines, Craig Battersby, Simon Deplitch, Warren Gell and myself. We are all punchy riders who like this kind of course. For me though, the last time I did Bashall long was several years ago and I had no recollection of it. So I spent most of the early morning getting various opinions on it, and talking to the team about tactics.

The conclusion was that it was a hilly/rolling course with short/long and shall/steep climbs, and some draggy bits, and lots and lots of potholes. There was a long shallow climb after the finish, a long shallow climb about half way round, and some downhill bits inbetween. It was also fact that the last two races here had finished as a reduced bunch sprint. Before the briefing we got together as a team and formulated a plan;

“Kris and Adam go with the breaks, Craig and Warren to cover the moves, and protect Si for the sprint finish”. Simple enough…

….and we’re off.

After the rider briefing we rolled out of HQ. The neutral section was pretty long today, and it was a great opportunity for the five of us to lead the bunch out. In a refreshing change of pace, the lead car led us out at a very relaxed speed, and not the 300-400 watt strung out line that some lead cars do. We got past the finish straight and the lead car sped off…flag down. The bunch were tightly compacted, with five TC riders spread across the front. I decided I’d give it a go, and attacked.

30 seconds in I heard a voice in my ear “get on my wheel Kris!” and Warren powered past in his familiar time trial position. Now we were a two up, and looking behind, no-one was chasing. Into the climb we went and soon the bunch were out of sight. As we neared the top, We were joined by three others – Matt Langridge, Steve Fidler, and Tom Hanlon – three very strong guys. This was a very good break to be in, and had it been a flatter course I’m sure we had what it took to stay away. But Bashall is anything but flat.

As fast as we become a group of 5, we were down to 4. Warren suddenly went into reverse. I later found out that he had broken a stem bolt, and was forced to retire after less than 1/2 lap. Bad luck Woz, and thank you for the tow! We set a pretty fast pace that was taking it’s toll on Tom, and he eventually lost contact. We were down to three as we rolled across the finishing line to begin lap two.

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We continued to press on, and eventually Steve also lost contact with us. But this didn’t matter too much, as soon we were reeled back in by the bunch. But we could see that the chase had done a lot of damage to the group, with around 25-30 riders left in the bunch. Now the hard work started…

I said earlier that it’s rare for a break to stay away on this course. More typically it’s a race of attrition, with more and more riders falling off the back either on the climbs, or from the several tight junctions that cause splits. Today was no different, and my tactic for the day changed to survival mode. Adam, Craig and Si were in the front group, and Craig took to the front; “Kris, get off the front – let me do the work”. I was happy to oblige and I recharged the batteries.

In a bid to prevent any counters, Craig pulled like a train on the front for a good lap and a half. I tactic that worked really well, as everyone else sat in. I spoke to Si and he felt good, happy to cover any moves that went if needed. His goal was to get to the last half mile and bid for the win. It was down to Adam and I to cover the moves, but Adam was starting to suffer. I told him to get up to the front, which he did, and he settled in behind Craig.

After Craig had burned his last match he rolled to the side and other riders took up the reins, and then the fun began. the group was still 25 strong…too big for some…and so the war of attrition began. With every climb, every corner, and every tricky descent there were bursts of acceleration. More and more riders lost contact, and this kept going deep into lap 4. By this point, Adam was one of those casualties and he had packed, and after a particularly fast lap, Si had emptied his tank also – despite him claiming that it was because he didn’t want to write the race report! (the honours usually go to whoever had the best result in the race…).

I was the only rider from TC left in the front group – now around 14 riders, as we crossed the line for the penultimate lap…

 

After the line, and round the left turn, the group of 14 realised that this was it. Everyone else was out of the race. This caused a brief moment of calm and the pace eased. Mistake. Two riders attacked up the hill, and the chase was on. From here to the line, it was now a case of chasing down the relentless counters. This took it’s tool on me and I was distanced from the group.

With the group 10 seconds up the road, the Commissaire drove into the gap, followed by the Medics, and the neutral service. I gave everything I had to stay in contention, managing to keep the gap to a minimum to the top of the climb. At the top I took a breather for a few seconds, and dug deep to sprint back past the vehicles and re-joined the back of the group. BIG relief.

 

Thankfully, the pace eased a bit. I can only assume everyone else was feeling like I was – at least I hope they were – and saving some energy for the last uphill half mile to the line.

The finish on Bashall Eaves long is pretty technical. A fast twisty descent down to a double lefthander over a narrow bridge, straight into a very steep, very short climb. At the top, the incline eases to a more gentle ramp all the way to the finish line.

I was ready for the sprint to start at the bridge and as I followed the line I gave it everything up the hill! But to my surprise the sprint didn’t start – I had to brake to stay with the bunch (looking back, I should have just gone for it there and then!). The group bunched up. From the front, the pace quickened, but the surge didn’t happen, and I followed the wheels moving up. Eventually bums here out of seats, and the sprint started. I was really surprised that I was passing riders left and right – the day must have been as tough for everyone else.

Up front I could see that Matt Langridge had a gap, and he celebrated a well deserved win. He’d been strong all day. I rolled in on fumes in 6th place, disappointed I could not do better in our first ever home race. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had I been able to do it again, I would have had a different strategy for the day.


Final Results

  1. Matt Langridge – Planet X – £150 Momo Wrist watch
  2. Jude Taylor – Team B38 – £80
  3. Alistair Thomas – Sportcity Velo – £60
  4. Joe Bowers – Buxton CC – £50
  5. Ben Trippier – Maxxis 4 Racing – £40
  6. Kris Zentek – Team Chronomaster – £30
  7. Oliver Huszar – East Lancs RC
  8. Simon Bridge – Manchester BC
  9. Freddie Jagger – Cycleways
  10. Martin Woffindin – Secret Training
  11. tbc
  12. tbc
  13. tbc
  14. tbc
  15. tbc

Prize draw winner: Andrew Sedgewick – Rutland CC – Specialized Turbo Cotton Tyres


Normally I wrap things up with a quick thank you to the organisers of the race, but seeing as this was our race I think it would be good to dig a little deeper into just how many people give up their own time (and often money) to make grassroots racing possible.

The sponsors

Team Chronomaster are blessed with having some exceptionally supportive sponsors. Without their help we wouldn’t be the team we are, or get to use the top end equipment we use. Today was no exception.

  • Leisure Lakes Bikes took time out of their very valuable day to provide neutral service, looking resplendent in their liveried van. Thank you guys!
  • Specialized UK were very kind to donate a top end set of Turbo Cotton tyres, worth just under £120. These were put up for grabs in the free rider raffle.
  • Napthens, a local firm of Solicitors, were extremely generous and contributed £250 towards today’s prize fund, which was gratefully shared between the riders placing 2nd to 6th place.
  • And last but by no means least, Neil Wood – owner of Chronomaster Wristwatches, donated a Momo Designer watch worth £150 as the prize for the winner of today’s race. Huge thanks to our team manager, el honcho, the grande fromage!

The Marshalls & The Motorbike Outriders

A lot of people are needed on race day to make sure we are all protected from the dangers of the open road. Every junction, twist and turn needs to be manned by the army of volunteer accredited marshalls, and a bunch of friends and family members. On the worst of days this can be a truly miserable affair, but today the sun was shining which hopefully made for a good day. We want to thank everyone who helped today – some of whom had travelled a long way to be here.

Thanks to all of our friends and patrons from Bolton Lads & Girls Club; Stephen Pritchard, Tony Brierley, Mark Brocklehurst (and his whole family!), Mark Parsons and Julian Ferrier. Dan Isherwood (thanks for stepping in at the last minute!) Even the legend Cal Difalco made an appearance! Couldn’t have done it without you all!

The team from Mersey Medical Services did a great job covering the race today too. Thank you also to British Cycling Officials Dave Cockram, Alan Roper and Adam Newell for all of their support and advice.

The Support Staff

Where do we start? There are so many people who helped out this weekend…

  • Mark Brocklehurst and family for sorting out the finishing area.
  • John Myburgh (who arrived at 6am) for putting out all of the road signs, and organising the marshalling duties.
  • John Myburgh, John Bamford and Mr Deplitch (Si’s Father) for driving the lead cars.
  • Warren (after he packed), Adam (after he packed), Jenna Baines (heavily pregnant!), Diane Woodcock and the Brocklehursts for adjudicating the race.
  • And who can forget that outstanding spread of food at the finish line! All of the credit, plus our heartfelt thanks must go to the Deplitch clan. Jackie, Si’s Mother and Si’s Auntie, baked tirelessly all weekend to provide the after race delicacies. It was a real treat!

Ellen Isherwood

We want to say a special thanks to Ellen our resident photographer. Come rain or shine, Ellen is at every race in the North West, perfectly capturing the essence of our local racing scene. She does this out of her passion for cycling and photography, never has to be asked, and never asks for anything in return (other than a credit). Ellen, we’re blessed that you are there at our races, and we’re eternally grateful!!

The Organisers

And last but by no means least, a huge thumbs up to Stephen Feeney and his better half Karen for taking on the challenge of hosting this race. Months of preparation went into it, and even on the day you were both there at 5:30am making sure everything ran like clockwork. You did a fantastic job, and the race was a huge success!


From all of us at Team Chronomaster, thank you to everyone who made this race a success. This was our first stab at organising a road race, and we will definitely being doing it again. Maybe something bigger, but certainly better!

We welcome any feedback you might have to help us improve for next time. If you want to send us any comments, please send us a message on our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TeamChronomaster/

See you next time!

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Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports

High On Bikes Clieves Hill Race Report

By Kris Zentek.

This season so far has been really up and down for me. Mostly down. As we are entering August, the chase for points is now on, and I have a lot of catching up to do. Kicking off the second half of my racing season was the Clieves Hill Road Race hosted by High On Bikes. This is one favourite races of the season, as it is always very well organised, supported and catered, and it’s a rolling course that suits me very well.

I got to HQ pretty early to get a decent warm up on the turbo, and with the weather being dry and bright, I made the most of it. There were plenty of distractions at HQ with riders signing on, the marshalls and outriders planning their strategy, Dan Whelan running over the Chief Commissaire*; the usual sunday morning sights.

* Tom Greep looked in quite a bad way after he was knocked over, and very luckily the medical team were right next to him when it happened. He received immediate care, and in true racing spirit, still managed to lead the race allowing it to happen. We are all really grateful for that! After the race, back at HQ, it looked like Tom may well have suffered a broken ankle. We all hope you recover well Tom, and hope to see you back in the racing scene soon.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

We rolled out of the HQ onto the course for 14 laps of the Clieves Hill circuit. The finish is on a short steep climb, but the rest of the course is fast and punchy. We were  stopped on the main road for another briefing (probably just an excuse to allow us veterans an opportunity to have a pee), and then we were off.

The first lap was uneventful, the group staying together. I used this as an opportunity to move up to bunch and settled into about 10th wheel, as I wanted to try and get in the break (there is always a break on this course, and it usually sticks). Into lap 2, and as we approached the shallow climb the pace quickened and we were strung out. A few riders, maybe 6, attacked and broke the elastic. At the top of the climb is a sharp left turn and is always a good place to get away, so I pressed on up the climb. Looking behind me I could see a couple of riders had come with me and that the bunch had eased off. I wanted to try and bridge to the breakaway before the descent, because the back part of the course was into a headwind. I just made contact as they turned left into the descent.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

The two riders that were with me had fallen back to the bunch, but I could see that others were making their bid to join the break. Soon it had swelled to around 12, and we were away.

With a group so big, it was always going to be hard to get everyone working. There were a few sandbaggers but most of the group were working hard to put some distance into the bunch. It didn’t take us long to get the gap up to around a minute, and for the rest of the race the gap bounced between 45 and 90 seconds. For the most part, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful. The group stayed away, but it was hard work trying to keep everyone working as a unit.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

There were two prime laps on lap 5 (for a £20 High on Bikes voucher) and lap 10 (for a free massage), and this was really the only bit of action we saw prior to the finale. The sandbaggers suddenly sprung into life as they bid for the prizes – they really must have wanted that massage! – before falling back to the back of the group. As the laps ticked by, so did the energy levels, and eventually more riders (including myself) started missing turns, trying to save energy to cover any late surges…and for the climb to the finish.

 

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Credit: Alex Reed

 

The Finale

Lap 11…Tom Knight and Louis Szymanski launched an attack as we crossed the line for lap 11. They built a decent lead quite quickly and kept a 10 second gap going into the descent. The group weren’t really working to pull them in, and so at the bottom of the hill into the headwind, I made a bid to join them. I seemed to be stuck in no-mans land – slowly closing the gap, but I could see the group were chasing me too. I didn’t want to burn too many matches incase a counter went, so I eased up and let the group pull Tom and Louis back in. At the top of the climb, we were all back together.

Lap13…Tom and Louis attacked again – same place, but this time with a lot more intent. By the time we got to the decent they were well out of sight. Again, the group were not working to catch them and this time, they were allowed to escape. We didn’t see them again until after the finish.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

After the bell, inevitably we started attacking each other, but nothing was allowed to stick. We rolled into the left turn up Clieves Hill to the finish line. By this point I had nothing left in the legs, and was quickly passed by most of the group. I rolled in 10th place. Brian Rigby was clearly stronger than the rest of us, and took the last podium spot with a clear gap.

 

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Credit: Ellen Isherwood

 

Not long after Si Dep rolled in at 18th place, and I learned about the day he and Craig had had, disrupting the bunch to allow me to get away, and allowing our group to build up a decisive lead. They chased down every attempt for a chase group to form, and for just two riders to do that all day, would have taken a lot of hard work! Craig had retired early, not surprising as he is nearing the end of his very successful season, and traditionally wraps things up in August. I’m really grateful for that support and I hope I can return the favour in another race! Cheers boys…

Results

  1. Tom Knight – VC Londres
  2. Louis Szymanski – ABC Centreville
  3. Brian Rigby VCUK VELOCHAMPION
  4. Tom Lowe
  5. Dan Whelan – Onimpex Bio Racer RT
  6. Jamie Fletcher – Ellan Vannin CC/Appleby
  7. Christopher Booth – Cadence Cycling Performance
  8. Declan Hudson – Clay Cross Road Team
  9. John Rigby – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  10. Kristian Zentek – Team Chronomaster
  11. Joseph Hanlon – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  12. Richard Taylor – Harry Middleton Cycling Club
  13. Alexander Simmons – Pro Vision Race Team
  14. Darran Acton – VCUK VELOCHAMPION Racing Team
  15. Steven Fidler – Crewe Clarion Wheelers

Although my result was not great, this was a good race for me. I’ve been struggling for the first half of the season, and today marked a bit of a turning point. My form is improving, and I hope I can carry this into the rest of the season and get some decent results.

I’d like to finish off by thanking the team at High On Bikes for putting on yet another high quality and very successful race – the Clieves Hill Road Race is definitely a highlight, and you didn’t disappoint this year! I’d like to thank all of the marshalls and motorbike outriders for a superb job keeping us all safe on the road. I’d also like to thank the volunteer caterers back at HQ for an amazing spread when we got back!

Lastly, I’d like to thank you to local photographers Alex Reed, and friend of the team Ellen Isherwood (for choosing our race to try out her new camera). Your photo’s did a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the race, and everyone appreciates it for the memories it brings!

Posted in Blogs, Results and Reports